Early Start May Produce Early Results

Reese Dismukes is pushing to earn a starting spot for the Auburn football team this season.

Auburn, Ala.--After wrapping up his high school football playing days at Jordan-Hare Stadium in December, Reese Dismukes could begin his college career on the same field nine months later as Auburn's starting center.

Dismukes led Spanish Fort High to the Class 5A state championship with a brilliant performance in the stadium on Auburn's campus where the Tigers will open the 2011 season vs. Utah State. When the Tigers take on the Aggies for the first time ever, on Sept. 3rd in Auburn, the freshman could find himself in the starting lineup.

With Ryan Pugh graduated the first team spot at center is there for the taking. Redshirt sophomore Blake Burgess finished spring training 1A on the depth chart with Dismukes so close behind you could say list him as 1B.

"They pretty much said we are neck and neck," Dismukes says of the competition to be the starting center. "Me and Blake, it is going to be a good one," Dismukes notes. "It is going to be a fight to the end, I can tell you that."

Reese Dismukes

Both of the center candidates are working on becoming bigger and stronger during the offseason and both are making strides. Burgess is expected to open fall practice in the 290 range, up 13 pounds from his weight during spring practice.

Dismukes has added a good bit of size, too. "I came in at 278 (in January) and lost to 272," he notes, pointing out that he currently weighs in the mid-290s range with a goal to play at 298 pounds this season.

The freshman credits Auburn's strength and conditioning coach, Kevin Yoxall, with helping him make strides in adding size and muscle thanks to a "good nutrition program" to go with the strength training.

Dismukes, who is six feet, three inches tall, notes that it hasn't been real difficult for him to add size since he got to college. He has been able to do it by following the regular workouts he does with his teammates and making sure he eats the right kind of foods.

Auburn's offensive line coach, Jeff Grimes, says he likes the progress that Dismukes is making, but notes the freshman is having to learn how to be successful with technique after being able to dominate opponents in high school with his combination of athletic ability and size.

At Spanish Fort High, where he was the star on offense, his team ran a high percentage of plays right up the middle, giving the center a chance to make key blocks on almost every down. Often Dismukes would block two guys on the same play, first knocking down a lineman before taking out a linebacker or defensive back.

His ability, combined with good work in the classroom and plenty of size, helped Dismukes become one of the top prospects in the country for Auburn's 2011 signee class, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation by Scout.com.

After a strong performance as a sophomore, Dismukes began attracting serious attention from major college recruiters. By the start of his junior year he was looking forward to college football so much he set up his schedule so he could graduate high school in 3 1/2 years, which is exactly what he did because he admits he gotten tired of high school and was ready to move on to college.

The Auburn freshman is shown during practice for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game his team won in December.

Dismukes was able to participate in the winter workouts at Auburn this year and go through the 15 days of spring practice where he showed that he has the potential to help the defending national champs sooner than later. He says being able to arrive on campus early has made a positive difference for his freshman season. "Obviously, it was a good decision as far as giving me a chance to win the job," he says.

"You can see guys (freshmen) now who are just getting here," he says."they are running so much less than us and not doing all of the weight room stuff. They have to be worked into things, just like I was when I got here. It gives me the advantage of knowing the plays and having an idea of the system we run. I work out with all of the older guys."

Dismukes says that he believes having the early start will help him when the Tigers hit their remodeled practice fields in August for preseason drills. "I know what to expect when camp gets here," he says. "I haven't been through camp, but I have been through practice so I have a good idea."

Dismukes is shown in action at the state championship game his Spanish Fort team won in December.

Because of his weight gain there is more of Dismukes than there was seven months ago when he moved to Auburn, but there is much less up top. He recently cut his hair short after letting it grow for a year and half without any visits to the barbershop.

"I just kind of wanted a new look," he explains. "It was getting a little hot. That is pretty much it."

He points out that the coaching staff didn't have any problem with his hair length, but his parents did. "They kept nagging and nagging, and one day I decided I was going to cut it all off," he says with a smile.

Dismukes notes that he has not had any problems adjusting to college with the increased workloads in the classroom and on the practice field. He adds that it is a challenge, but one he doesn't mind.

The center was a high school All-American last season and has high hopes for his first season as a college player. "If I do get a chance to start, I hope to be a freshman All-American," he says. "That is my one goal. Obviously, starting is my main goal."

Considering how close the competition is to replace Pugh, a four-year starter who played tackle his first two seasons and center his last two, it won't be a big surprise if the big freshman plays early and often this fall.

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